Building a mini permaculture bed

Oh boy, this is going to be a study in brown. A study in murky shades of earth and sticks and logs.

With occasional glimpses of plastic.

So we’d best have a pleasing shot of the other permaculture beds in the garden first.

These tulips are ones I planted two seasons ago and are a thrill to see. I did not plant a single bulb last autumn. My first non bulb year in 16. So I am counting all of these as a bonus.

But you aren’t here to see the functioning raised beds; rather a new one.

Etienne has been working all week on carpentry projects. And my potager now looks less shabby.

Well, it will be when I can complete the work.

Here is the first bit.

All along the back wall I have new beds just itching to be transformed. They sit right on the granite rock of the mountain and the long skinny bed has always been on the thin side. Thin in girth, thin in soil. But of course abundant in bindweed and brambles that sneak out from the wall behind.

I used the bed to grow my dahlias in pots last year. But I decided it was a non starter.

And the low rock wall never looked very good. I would either bark it with a wheelbarrow, or else just curse at is as hefty receptacle for bindweed roots.

It now has a Douglas pine facade.

And raised beds behind.

Doing this particular landscaping job with a knee brace and an inability to bend down without shrieking means I have been slow.

Very slow.

So meet the one bed that’s complete.

Soil dug out to a depth of about eight inches. Rocks shoved to the side. Pebbles removed and shoved into buckets for washing and covering the pebble paths. (Unless I lost the will to live. Talk about nit picking.)

Then with lots and lots of half full buckets I have put the precious improved soil to one side.

I told you it would be a dreary earth toned blog.

And then I went to the wood store about 100 metres from the potager and asked anyone going past to wheelbarrow loads of these little logs closer to where I needed to work.

It’s a mix of boxwood which Never Rots, some cherry, chestnut and oak.

Not the perfect ingredient for a raised permaculture bed. I would have gone for more moisture loving logs like willow and ash. But they are lightweight and these are the only things I can lift into the space.

As you can see, there is a narrow strip of stones that were already in situ and which I cannot shift. So they form the base of the bed where I will no doubt perch to plant and harvest.

The weed-roof fabric around the edges will hopefully give a longer life to the wooden supports. And slow down the water runoff.

If they made weed-roof fabric that could deter mole rats, I’d buy shares.

And curses. I forgot to snap a photo of the next layers – prunings from the mulberry tree. And then half the contents of the compost heap. Mercifully just along the back of the garden.

No, wait! I did.

Then back onto the heap of material with all that saved precious soil.

And there you have it. One nicely overfull bed.

I have watered lavishly. And now there is a layer of fabric over the top (I’m looking at you Creature. Never was one to keep out of the soft soil)

And I’ll just give it time to settle.

And work out how I can use my chipper without having to bend or engage many of my torn ligaments. There is a pile of sticks down by the stables just dying to get chopped up and made into mulch.

That will be the final layer over the top.

Next week.

Next week.